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Viewing cable 07KABUL2004, PRT URUZGAN - THE FIGHT FOR CHORA

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07KABUL2004 2007-06-21 15:03 2011-01-25 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Kabul
VZCZCXRO2111
OO RUEHDBU RUEHPW
DE RUEHBUL #2004/01 1721511
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 211511Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8746
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 002004 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG 
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN 
OSD FOR SHIVERS 
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A. CG CJTF-82 POLAD 
 
E.O. 12958: DE...


112974
2007-06-21
07KABUL2004
Embassy Kabul
SECRET//NOFORN
07KABUL1971|07THEHAGUE1196
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KABUL 002004 

SIPDIS 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

DEPT FOR SCA/FO DAS GASTRIGHT, SCA/A 
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR AID/ANE, AID/DCHA/DG 
NSC FOR AHARRIMAN 
OSD FOR SHIVERS 
CENTCOM FOR CG CFC-A. CG CJTF-82 POLAD 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/21/2017 
TAGS: MOPS PGOV PREL PTER SOCI AF
SUBJECT: PRT URUZGAN - THE FIGHT FOR CHORA 

REF: A. KABUL 1971 
B. THE HAGUE 1196 

Classified By: Ambassador William Wood for reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 

------- 
Summary 
------- 

1. (C/REL NATO and AUS) Summary: Chora district 
center came under Taliban attack Friday, June 15, the 
focal point of a province-wide surge in insurgent 
activity. When it looked as if Chora might fall, the 
Dutch took the politically difficult decision to go on 
the offensive. They mounted successful operations 
re-establishing GoA control over Chora and killing key 
Taliban commanders. Unfortunately, the fighting also 
took a toll on the civilian population. The Taliban 
executed residents and their families in retaliation 
for their support of the Afghan government. 
Preliminary investigations indicate that press reports 
of civilian casualties were exaggerated. The PRT is 
on the ground to address humanitarian needs arising 
from the fighting and to resume reconstruction. No 
doubt critics of the Dutch mission in Afghanistan will 
attempt to use the fight for Chora as ammunition in 
this summer's debate over extension of the Dutch 
mission in Uruzgan beyond July 2008; but advocates of 
extension are likely to find that the results better 
support their cause. End Summary. 

2. (SBU) Ref A reported a significant surge in 
insurgent activity in Uruzgan. While this pattern was 
observed throughout the province, the fight for the 
Chora district center was the center of the storm. 

---------- 
The Threat 
---------- 

3. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) As of Sunday, June 17, the 
situation in Chora looked bleak. Insurgents had 
overrun three checkpoints to the east of the Chora. 
ISAF and Afghan forces were hunkered down in the 
district center itself, seemingly surrounded. To 
the west, local tribal commanders defending Sarab 
village lost a checkpoint on the high ground and had 
fallen back into the village. Worse, insurgents held 
the ground between the two points, preventing one 
force from aiding the other. Task Force-Uruzgan (TF- 
U) Commander Col. Hans van Griensven commented that it 
looked like Chora might fall despite the vigorous 
defense the Dutch were mounting. Specifically, they 
were firing live rounds from their Panzer Howitzer and 
had authorized aircraft providing close air support to 
fire on selected targets, techniques usually eschewed 
by the Dutch because of the possibility of civilian 
casualties. 

--------------------------------------------- ---- 
A Moment of Choice: The Dutch Go on the Offensive 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 

4. (S/NF) In the face of this dire situation, TF-U 
staff considered two alternatives. They could 
withdraw Dutch and Afghan forces from Chora and stay 
faithful to a strict interpretation of their 
reconstruction mandate in the province. Or they could 
commit themselves indefinitely to the fight for Chora, 
and for the first time commit their battle group to an 
offensive operation without the requirement that the 
enemy fire first. The TF-U commander chose to go on 
the offensive, recognizing that this might result, 
despite their best efforts, in some collateral damage. 
General Berlijn, commander of the Dutch armed forces, 
authorized this decision. 

----------------------- 
Fighting the Good Fight 

KABUL 00002004 002 OF 004 


----------------------- 

5. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) On Sunday evening, Dutch 
Special Forces attacked Taliban positions at the 
southern entrance to the Baluchi Valley, a traditional 
Taliban sanctuary that lies between Chora and the 
provincial capital Tarin Kowt. Their objective was 
to force insurgents in Chora to divert forces to 
defend this strategic position. On Sunday night, the 
Dutch bombed a location where Taliban commanders were 
meeting, resulting in the deaths of the commander in 
charge of the operation, Mullah Mutalib, and three 
colleagues, Mullahs Ismael, Sadiq, and Ghafour. 

6. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) On Monday morning, June 18, 
Dutch troops, joined by 90 soldiers of the Afghan 
National Army (ANA), attacked insurgents on the west 
side of Chora, re-taking checkpoints they had lost 
earlier that weekend. Simultaneously, tribal militias 
pushed out of Sarab attacked insurgents and re-took 
the Sarab Hill checkpoint. Militias led by Khas 
Uruzgan District Chief Jar Mohammed and former 
provincial Chief of Police Rozie Khan Sarab joined 
checkpoint commanders Toor Abdullah and Adul Malek and 
their men in this battle. By early afternoon, the 
insurgents disengaged and fled. ISAF had once again 
re-established control of the Chora district center. 
One Dutch soldier was killed and three wounded on 
Monday during the fighting. The Dutch have not 
reported any casualties among the ANSF. 

7. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) The Dutch appeared to have 
regained the upper hand, at least for the moment. 
Meanwhile, the insurgents were said to be in disarray 
and demoralized. They were short on ammunition and 
weapons. With their top commanders dead, they lacked 
leadership and seemed to be at a loss as to how to re- 
group and carry on with the fight. Many fled to safe 
areas or hid among the population. 

------------------ 
The Threat Remains 
------------------ 

8. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) While diminished for the time 
being, the insurgent threat remains and attacks could 
soon start again. A group of insurgents remains in 
position between Chora District Center and Sarab. 
Another is sitting to the northwest of Chora in the 
vicinity of the Niazy checkpoint. There were reports 
that 100 reinforcements under the command of Mullahs 
Hamdullah and Qahir left Mirabad on Tuesday, June 19, 
bound for Chora. Reinforcements could also come from 
safe havens in Gizab district and the Baluchi Valley. 

9. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) Intelligence indicates the 
Taliban in Uruzgan have already established a new 
command structure. Mullah Aktar Mohammed has been 
tapped as commander for the Chora district. Mullah 
Aminullah now commands forces in Cahar Cineh district. 
And Qahir Faiz Mohammed is said to now lead the 
Taliban in the vicinity of Tarin Kowt, including 
Mirabad to the east and Darefshan to the north. 

10. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) Some Dutch platoons and ANA 
returned from Chora Thursday, June 21, to rest and 
refit. Three Dutch platoons, a number of PRT 
personnel and about 50 ANA will remain in Chora. The 
Dutch will maintain their forces in Chora for the 
foreseeable future. They are there to perform a 
number of functions: to act as a deterrent to future 
attack; to work with ANSF to defend the area; to 
provide relief to civilians affected by the fighting; 
and to resume reconstruction work. The ANA are likely 
to be pulled out as soon as police -- either local 
police from Uruzgan or 80 of the ASP who are already 
in Uruzgan -- arrive to man and reinforce checkpoints in and 
around Chora. 


KABUL 00002004 003 OF 004 


------------------- 
Impact on Civilians 
------------------- 

11. (U) Daily life in Chora is slowly returning to 
normal. The bazaar is open. Children are going to 
school. Families that fled the fighting are returning 
home. Local men can be seen again on the street. 

12. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) But the 
fighting took a toll on the local population. There 
are multiple reports of civilian casualties in the 
press, many of them exaggerated. According to TF-U, 
30 plus civilians were killed during the fight (from 
June 15 on) and 62 were wounded. These numbers are 
still preliminary and do not distinguish between 
casualties that resulted from enemy action and those 
resulting from ISAF action. The PRT has dispatched 
its medical and legal specialists to Chora to work 
with local authorities to investigate this issue. 

13. (S/REL TO NATO/AUS) The Taliban executed an as 
yet undetermined number of civilians. These acts were 
directed at those supporting the GoA and their 
families. The Dutch have confirmed the executions of 
checkpoint commander Abdul Malek's two brothers. 
There are multiple reports that checkpoint commander 
Toor Jan's family was executed, women and children 
included. 

14. (S/NF) The PRT has maintained a steady presence 
throughout the build-up in tensions and the recent 
fighting. Now it is in the process of reinforcing its 
team in Chora with additional civil affairs personnel, 
police mentors, and subject matter experts. The Dutch 
government has put 1.2 million Afghani (approximately 
USD 24,000) at the PRT's disposal for emergency relief 
(food, blankets, shelter, and clothing). The PRT is 
working to access ISAF funds to assist families 
repairing and replacing property damaged by the 
fighting. However, the Dutch are not prepared to 
immediately promise to compensate all those civilians 
who claim to have suffered losses. They first want to 
compile information on where and when they fired into 
the area, so that they might limit payment to those 
legitimate claims for which ISAF is responsible. They 
also do not appear to have identified a source of 
funds for compensation/reconstruction of lives and 
personnel property. Possibly because of 
their policy to avoid collateral damage at all cost, 
they did not have a pre-existing plan/procedure to 
deal with this eventuality. Rather, they began 
Monday, June 18, to work from scratch to devise a 
response to the humanitarian costs of this fight in 
Chora. 

------- 
Comment 
------- 

15. (S/NF) The Dutch here acquitted 
themselves well in Chora. They 
accurately assessed the threat and overcame policy 
obstacles to the kind of forward-leaning, offensive 
operations demanded by the situation. They dealt the 
Taliban a resounding blow, even at the cost of one of 
their own. They are carefully but quickly replying to 
criticism about civilian collateral damage with facts 
and concrete plans to address civilian need, which 
prevents the Taliban from getting ahead on this front. 
The Dutch government has publicly stated its intent to 
continue the mission in the face of the dangers (ref 
B). There will be those who use what happened in 
Chora to try to argue against the extension of the 
Dutch mission in Uruzgan beyond 2008. Strong 
arguments for extension can also be extrapolated from 
the events of the last week. 

16. (S/NF) In a private meeting which included the 

KABUL 00002004 004 OF 004 


Dutch Ambassador on June 21, President Karzai 
expressed concern about use of artillery and the 
danger of civilian casualties. Both the Dutch 
and ISAF Commander McNeill explained the situation. 
We believe/believe the President was reassured. 


WOOD